Fear and Phobias
We got this marvelous email from a phobic driver, who got herself back behind the steering wheel by playing affirmations... she probably has no idea how much good company she's in with this challenge. Here it is:
I wanted to share my experience with affirmations and driving. Maybe if there is someone else like me, it might help.
I am 48 years old and am terrified of driving. I got my driver's license at age 16 as did all my peers, but never drove until I was 22 and starting my first teaching job after getting my degree.
We received this question from a woman who was traumatized by a clumsy practitioner and then made to suffer an additional amount of time by the medical system, until she finally found some help. By then, she was the worse for wear, psychologically and physically. Sadly, we hear variations on this far too many times:
I am having a difficult time recovering both physically and psychologically from a traumatic hip injury caused by my medical treatment several months ago. The rehab specialist was very insensitive and aggressive and used the wrong equipment on my leg with such force that he messed up the proper functioning of my leg. It then took four months to get a doctor to listen to me or correctly diagnose the injury. I finally found a hip specialist who did, and had arthroscopic hip surgery in late January. By then, there was a lot of surrounding trauma and weakness to the back and hip, which has made recovery very slow and painful. I am still frightened and tense all the time, and worry that this is also impeding my progress. Which healing program do you think might help me the best, at least to start with?
Here’s a dramatic story that came out of Fargo, ND, about Alison Kohler, a woman who was so traumatized, she’d basically shut down her life, and how her therapist, Connie Bjerk, trained in practicing integrative therapies, helped release her from being controlled by fear, and jump-start a very juicy new chapter in her life, filled with hope, romance and possibility.
Every now and then it really does happen this way. You can read more about it here.
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands conducted a non-randomized study to evaluate the usefulness of a trauma-focused treatment approach for travel phobia or milder travel anxiety arising as a result of a road traffic accident.
Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) were used to treat a sample of 184 patients, who were referred to a psychological rehabilitation provider.
Patients in both treatment groups were encouraged to encounter their feared situations between sessions. Travel phobia was officially diagnosed in 57% of cases.
This beautifully written and inspiring letter came to the office on March 7th.
Dear Ms. Belleruth Naparstek,
My life was shattered when my 5-yr-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. After a nasty case of strep throat that recurred a week later, Alana’s pediatrician ordered a series of blood tests that revealed falling hemoglobin and platelet counts. She directed us to drive her to the Children’s Hospital 4 hours away, as soon as possible. By the time we arrived, Alana was so white she looked as if she wouldn’t make it through the night.
Three days later she was officially diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and the three week induction phase of treatment began. It was then that I began having panic attacks. I would be sitting in the hospital with Alana and if no other family members were present, I would begin to feel waves of adrenaline flooding my system, followed by shallow breathing, which would only scare me and make the symptoms worse.
Researchers from St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, Australia, measured the efficacy of an internet-based, clinician-assisted, cognitive behavioral treatment program (The Panic Program) for panic disorder (with agoraphobia) as compared to waitlist controls…
Fifty-nine individuals suffering from panic disorder with agoraphobia were randomly assigned to a treatment group or to a waitlist control group. Treatment group participants completed the Panic program, comprising of six on-line lessons, weekly homework assignments, weekly email contact from a psychiatry registrar, and contributed to a moderated online discussion forum with other participants.
Which of all these strategies can be applied to phobias, such as a fear of heights?
The two simplest methods would be to either become very skilled at becoming relaxed at will or to use one of the alphabet therapies, such as Emotional Freedom Technique, to extinguish the fear.
Dear Belleruth and Health Journeys,
My 5 year old son, a very active little boy, tripped while running around the living room and fell against a coffee table with sharp corners. He suffered a deep cut on his forehead. I took him to the E.R. to get him stitched up, and of course he started squirming and protesting the minute he realized what was about to go down. The more the nurse and I tried to hold him still, the more upset he became. Things went from bad to worse.
Researchers from Hospital Universitario de Canarias, Spain., examined the efficacy of treating agoraphobia with virtual reality techniques as an alternative to the in-vivo exposure component of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Twenty-seven patients with agoraphobia were randomly distributed into two groups of psychoactive drugs (paroxetine and venlafaxine, AKA Paxil and Effexor) and into two cognitive- behavioral procedures (with or without exposure to VRET). Seven virtual situations were used.
Investigators at Jaume I University reported their findings on the effectiveness of the "Talk to Me" interactive program on treating fear of public speaking. This internet-based, self-applied intervention has several components, including a diagnostic assessment, a structured treatment, and an outcome protocol that evaluates treatment efficacy in a continuous manner. One case study revealed a significant decrease in levels of fear and avoidance related to speaking in public. However, a pilot study is needed to confirm this promising but inconclusive case study.
Citation: Botella C, Hofmann SG, Moscovitch DA.A self-applied, Internet-based intervention for fear of public speaking. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2004 Aug; 60 (8): pages 821-30.